Columns

2006.10.25 Die here or elsewhere?

on . Posted in By The Way

By DAVID GREEN

It was the odd question of the week. I was standing by the kitchen counter applying peanut butter to a rice cracker when my wife asked me something.

“Do you want to die in this house?”

I knew Colleen had a large kitchen knife in her hand, but I didn’t turn to face her. If she was about to stab me, it would be in the back. I wouldn’t give her the pleasure of a decent murder.

Turns out she was asking if I was interested in moving some time in the future...or did I want to die in this house.

Two kids gone, one a senior in high school—she was thinking about our future. More room than we would need, stairs to climb up, stairs to climb down, repairs to make in an aging home, etc.

And then there’s the issue of grandchildren, all those next-generation offspring who don’t yet exist. Maybe we’d have to move to get closer to the dispersing family.

Ben is in Miami, a place so far south that he says it’s south of the South. It’s an entirely different culture.

Ben took the job down there stating that he would like to return to the Great Lakes state sometime down the road, but certainly not now. Landscape architecture firms often live by public money for the parks and downtown development projects they design, and Michigan isn’t a place for public money these days.

Rosanna is in year three of college in Kentucky, and with a Kentucky boyfriend, maybe she’ll end up living there. That’s a long drive, too.

Too early to even guess with Maddy. She has yet to settle on a college and she’s applying to schools from here to there.

My parents stayed put here in Morenci and had access to three grandchildren plus a 90-minute drive to three more. Two others are a few states away in Minnesota.

Through some strange planetary alignment, all of my siblings were in Morenci Friday. Dan flew in from Seattle for a home town visit. Tom had two days off from school, so he decided to drive over. Diane wasn’t about to miss out on this and she came down from East Lansing.

We decided to participate in a shared interest, geocaching, so we grabbed our GPS receivers and headed out in search of hidden “treasure.” Since Colleen appeared to be free of weapons, we allowed her to come along.

While traveling between the Little House on the Hill and Wabash Cannonball Trail #1, Colleen put a different twist on the “Do you want to die here?” question. She asked my siblings if they ever considered moving back to Morenci. “Do you ever have a yen for it?” is the way she put it.

Dan said he has no yen and Diane said she hasn’t either.

“I could move back if I had to,” she added.

“Maybe if a giant wave wiped out the west coast,” Dan said.

Tom never answered that one so I asked him the next day when he and Dan and I were headed to Lost Nations to look for the famous cave that I’ve long heard about. There was a geocache nearby.

Like the other two, Tom has no reason to consider moving back here. All three of them live in areas that hold a lot of appeal.

Tom figured he could do it if Colleen and I were still living here, but he didn’t think he could ever talk his wife into making the move. She’s from Minnesota and they live near the 45th parallel. What’s the appeal of southeastern Michigan?

You can visit the Silas Doty cave only so many times before getting accidentally shot by a hunter.

When we were about to set out Friday afternoon, I pulled up to a gas pump at the Deli, opened the window, and asked the elderly gentleman who was studying the directions to “Fill ’er up, please.” I knew it was Jack Smith.

He turned around looking a little surprised until he saw the joker who was asking. He couldn’t see through the tinted glass of the van so I opened the door and there were the other three Green kids, much to his amazement.

We helped Jack with his purchase—he was just filling a gas can—and he mentioned that he and Ruth are considering moving to Illinois to be closer to their children. That sounds like a situation in which Ruth had a knife in her hand one day and asked, “Do you want to die in this house?”

I guess it worked for her.

   – Oct. 25, 2006

 

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